When Love Hurts...What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence doesn’t start with broken bones and bruises. It starts with a partner with unresolved issues or trauma. They may have witnessed violence or experienced abuse during their childhood or teen years. Perpetrators can transition from the victim to the perpetrator in attempt to gain control they couldn’t attain while growing up. Perpetrators tend to use mental health issues and drug/alcohol use to explain their lack of control.

However, perpetrators know exactly what they are doing as it is a calculating way to gain control, power and dominance in the relationship. A common tactic of perpetrators is to “start small” with emotional, psychological and financial abuse. The abuse can slowly increase in severity and intensity. It can transition into more dangerous forms including sexual and physical abuse. Before you know it, the abuse can go from simply put downs or criticisms to punches.

Here are the various forms of domestic violence:

1. Emotional Abuse:

Name-calling, put-downs, criticizing, embarrassing, mocking, humiliating and blaming. Examples: “You’re stupid/fat/useless, worthless”, “It’s your fault”, “No one will love you.”

2. Psychological Abuse:

Characterized by intimidation, threats of harm, mind games and isolation. Examples • Damaging property • Abusing pets/children • Preventing the victim from talking to people (particularly friends/family) • Preventing the victim from leaving the home (checking GPS, mileage) • Controlling what the victim does and whether they can leave the home • Damaging property • Blaming the victim or making them “feel crazy” • Not permitting freedom of choice (hair style, clothing, appearance) • Fostering dependency (encouraging the victim to think she/he is incapable of living without them) • Extreme jealousy/Withholding affection • Using black mail or fear tactics (I’m going to call CPS if you …”)

3. Physical abuse:

The most recognizable form of abuse that may include: • Punching, kicking, hitting, choking, biting, pulling hair, beating, burning, stabbing, shooting or threatening with an object. • Withholding food, sleep, transportation, medical care or denying money • Restraining or holding hostage • Destroying property • Abusing, injuring or threatening to hurt children or pets

4. Sexual Violence

• Forcing sex, sex with others, unwanted sexual experiences or prostitution

• Exploiting a victim who is unable to decide on sexual activity (Victim may be under the influence of drugs/alcohol, asleep, disabled, etc.)

• Mocking/Demeaning the victims sexuality or body

• Forcing choices in reproduction (Coerced into not using contraception, forcing abortion, etc)

• Engaging in affairs to mock or taunt

5. Financial Abuse:

Keeping the victim financially depend on the abuser • Stealing • Identity Theft • Restricting an education or job • Withholding access to money/Controlling the finances

6. Spiritual Abuse:

Denying the victim the ability to practice their religious, spiritual or cultural activities. Belittling the victim’s beliefs.

For emergencies please contact 911 or your local police department. For non-emergencies please contact: National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233 National Center for Victims of Crime 855-484-2846